Ahead of the Sahkir Grand Prix, one of the biggest developments has been Williams driver George Russell’s substitution with Mercedes after Lewis Hamilton tested positive for COVID-19 early in the week.
Since the news broke, fans have been speculating endlessly about whether Russell can score his first points in F1 and continue his streak of out-qualifying his team-mate against a much more competitive Valtteri Bottas this weekend.
Sky Sport’s commentators were optimistic about what the former F3 and F2 champion would be able to accomplish in the cockpit of the fastest car on the grid.
Discussing Russell’s temporary move to the Silver Arrows, Ted Kravitz said: “[Mercedes have] really turned that negative into a very big positive, giving their development driver, a young driver, George Russell, the chance of making his grand prix debut in a top team”
As for how Kravitz thinks Russell may fair once he is in the car, he said:
“It’s going to be very difficult for George but he’s an expert on a Saturday, so I would reckon top four in qualifying would be a very good result for him,” while on Sunday, “a podium would perhaps be expected in the car he’s driving.”
Paul di Resta was even more optimistic, saying: “Honestly, when you look at it and you see what Hulkenberg did when he stood in this year, you’d expect him to line up on the front row. He could very easily qualify in P1.”
They all recognised that there is a massive amount of pressure to perform as many expect Russell to be the next in line for a Mercedes seat.
Di Resta added: “I think he’ll be very professional. He’s at a good age, he’s got a number of people supporting him, especially right at the top. He’s in a great position to make an impression.”
Ex-F1 driver Anthony Davidson ultimately summed up this weekend best for Russell: “This is George’s chance.”
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